Wedding Themes By Jessica Weltersen The Irish culture is rich in folklore and traditions. Many Americans can trace their ancestry to the Irish people, and pride themselves with the rich heritage of their Gaelic past. While Ireland has changed over the years, the roots of Gaelic traditions are still intact. Many people may find Irish wedding celebrations to be a very romantic way to get out of the rut of traditional weddings. If you want a break from the traditional way to get married, Irish weddings may just be right for you. Irish Wedding Traditions Most Irish are either Protestant or Catholic, and observe wedding rites according to their Church. Even then, many Irish couples still observe some traditions from their Gaelic past. Heirloom wedding rings. Instead of buying rings from the jewelers, Irish traditions hold that a wedding ring must be passed on from generation to generation. Golden wedding rings are family heirlooms. Some wedding rings are designed to look like two hands clasped with each other to signify the eternal bond and commitment of marriage. The “Straw Boys.” The “Straw Boys” are a group of dancers who appear in an Irish wedding, and stand for good luck, fortune, and fertility. The Straw Boys arrive at the reception or wedding venue wearing tall straw hats, masks, and capes. They stay for around an hour, and dance to celebrate the wedding. After the dance, they leave. Having “Straw Boys” at your Irish wedding is a sign that your married life will be happy and joyful. A shower of coins and shoes. Coins and shoes also represent good fortune. The Gaelic people have a belief in “happy feet,” and believe that old slippers and shoes thrown towards the newlyweds symbolize their good wishes. Make sure that you don’t give them some nasty bruises by throwing the footwear directly at them; instead, you can throw the coins and shoes at the feet of the newlyweds. Poems and Songs The Irish people have a rich literary and cultural heritage. The traditional Irish wedding song is a centerpiece of many wedding band ensembles. Instruments like the fife and the fiddle provide lively music for everyone to celebrate the occasion. Sometimes romantic poems inspired by traditional Gaelic and Irish literature can be read as wedding vows or as toasts during the wedding reception. If you have a particularly strong Irish heritage, or if you feel a great pride in your Irish ancestry, then you can have the wedding Mass or wedding ceremony heard in traditional Irish or Gaelic. You may also check with an expert in Irish folklore and ask how you could go about planning a completely traditional Irish wedding. The Irish Wedding Banquet The Irish people are known for their preference towards hearty meals and companionship. Many people have dismissed Irish cuisine to be nothing more than potatoes and corned beef and cabbage, but the dishes served at Irish weddings are every bit as hearty as in other places: Boxty bread. There’s an old saying among the Irish: “Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan, if you don’t eat boxty you’ll never get a man.” Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake, a lot like hash browns. Boxty is made from finely grated raw potatoes mixed with buttermilk, egg, and flour, and fried on a pan or on a griddle. Boxty is a favorite food to serve in weddings because it is easy to prepare, and because it is a very important part of Irish traditions. Lamb. The Irish take great pride in their lamb dishes. Many lamb dishes are served during a wedding, including roast lamb and traditional Irish stew. Every bit of the lamb is used not only to save on costs, but because different edible parts of the lamb have different flavors to suit every guest’s personal taste. Beef, pork, veal, and even seafoods like cod and eel are also delectable dishes that can be served for an Irish-themed wedding banquet. Irish wedding cakes. Irish cakes, pastries, and confectionery have a unique, savory taste. Spices, berries, and other ingredients from the meadows and the hills of the old country are incorporated into cakes and other pastries. Ingredients like currants, molasses, cherries, and almonds are often used to impart a unique flavor to the dish. Irish beer and whiskey. Guinness and Irish whiskey are world-famous for their flavor, history, and heritage. Cases and barrels of these popular drinks are served at special occasions, and are perfect for weddings. Guinness is a very heavy and filling beer, while Irish whiskey is a very strong-flavored liquor that’s great for wedding toasts. With the many options available, you can plan your own take on the traditional Irish wedding. The important thing is that no matter what cultural theme you adopt for your wedding, you have to feel deep in your heart that love knows no borders.